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The Hit Charade: Lou Pearlman, Boy Bands, and the Biggest Ponzi Scheme in U.S. History Hardcover – November 11, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of phenomenally successful tweeny-bopper pop stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers--as well as the recent reunion of boy-band New Kids on the Block--the time is right for a good look at the ever-present sleaze of the music industry, and journalist Gray provides it in great, greasy bucketfuls. His focus is Lou Pearlman, the manager of the Backstreet Boys and INSYNC who, Gray explains, used their earnings to finance his exorbitant lifestyle including a multimillion-dollar mansion, a fleet of private planes and expensive cars, and, inevitably, "a shady world of endless investments." Gray's look at the bands' music is serviceable. However, Gray has a keen eye for business, and he writes fluently in detailing how Pearlman with "an assembly of hucksters as his new business partners," massively scammed not only his boy bands (he collected "50 percent of all recording royalties, 100 percent of all advances") but hopeful model wannabes as well as gullible investors, including Pearlman's first cousin Art Garfunkel and government officials of Orlando, Fla. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Tyler Gray is a journalist with more than twelve years of experience. He has appeared as a pop culture and news commentator on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Comedy Central's THE DAILY SHOW WITH JOHN STEWART, and his stories have appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, ESQUIRE and various other publications. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061579661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061579660
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Early on in Hit Charade one of Aviation Entrepreneur/Boy Band Impresario/Con Man/All Around Large Guy Lou Pearlman's business partners declares "He had the same sort of blimp vision that I had!" For a split second after reading that line I wondered if Blimp Vision required special glasses like a 3-D movie. Then I realized what a perfect metaphor blimps are for any of Pearlman's business ventures: large, full of hot air and liable to explode.

At the three-way intersection of True Crime, Business Expose and Celebrity Tell-all, Hit Charade is a winner. Tyler Gray tells the unlikely story of a boy from Brooklyn who conned nearly everyone he met in pursuit of his dreams of aviation greatness and then, bizarrely, decided to go into the entertainment business where he "rescued" pop music from the clutches of grunge. Explaining the ins and outs of any business related fraud is difficult. Explaining it without inducing comas is even more difficult. Gray manages to explain what Pearlman did clearly and entertainingly. Of course, he has awesome material for this venture.

While Gray can't provide any juicy tidbits from the behind the scenes stories of The Backstreet Boys or *NSync, he can tell us about the time Pearlman taught a wanna-be boy band star the "hit, hit, pump hit thrust maneuver." In public. On stage. He can also quote Pearlman telling a interviewer of the aquatic toys at his home, "If these Jet Skis could talk they would tell you about all of our artists who have been riding them."

Sadly, Jet Skis weren't the only things being taken for rides in Lou "Big Papa" Pearlman's world. Apparently taking business lessons from the movie The Producers, Pearlman liked to sell shares in his corporations over and over and over.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought the author of this book did a good job of uncovering the life of a sociopath. I feel it is told fluently in chronological order. It gives you the perspective of a person who has no conscience!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition
The story of Lou Pearlman's half billion dollar fraud is one that needs to be told, but by someone who is able to write fairly and clearly. This book is bloated and repetitive, with the author adding his own opinions throughout. It's an almost tabloid-style report that skips over details about the forming of the boy bands and instead spends about 100 pages on the boring history of Pearlman and blimps! The book contains a number of errors, both factual and cultural. It also hints at Pearlman's sexuality in a gossipy way without having any solid evidence. It's only worth reading if you want minute details of his air corporations or want a text in how to trick people into believing everything that's on paper (for example, Pearlman used an "accounting firm" with letterhead that actually just a P.O. box and a phone line to his office--and no one ever thought to check out the documents!), but not if you want information on Pearlman and boy bands. Just as you can't trust anything Pearlman says, don't trust the cover of this book--it's not about boy bands but about a mentally ill huckster who showed how easy it is to trick gullible investors and get away with it for many years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The saga of Lou Pearlman will eventually occupy a prominent chapter in any book on the greatest ponzi schemes of the 21st (and late 20th) century. It is downright fascinating how a man like Pearlman could not only bilk some many people out of Millions but also somehow manage to break in the music industry as a novice and churn out acts like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.

This is one of those books you just won't be able to put down. Tyler Gray does a very good of researching the history of Pearlman's business endeavors and the cast of characters that always hung around him. While the beginning part of the book is a tad slow, the story just soars once he shows how Pearlman broke into the music business, and then how his empire falls apart in 2005 and 2006.

My only slight critique of this book is Gray's reluctance to confirm stories about Pearlman's homosexual proclivities. Bryan Burrough's 'Vanity Fair' article on Pearlman did a much better job of discussing this and for whatever reason, Gray seems hesistant to tackle this issue. While this doesn't take away from the main story, it is definitely an interesting aspect that should have been explored more fully.

Regardless, this is a superb piece of investigative journalism and a downright fascinating look at a multi-decade Ponzi scheme.
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Format: Hardcover
Tyler Gray had a lot of information to work with to unravel the twisted story of Lou Pearlman in "Hit Charade." As one of the contributors to this tome, I realize that I never could have pulled it all together the way the author did. Gray cleverly used Lou Pearlman's "Bands, Brands, and Billions" as a base to discover the truth behind Pearlman's egocentric ramblings and faux rules of success. He shows how Mr. Pearlman's historical review of his career was a series of lies built upon lies. Many of Pearlman's stories were true, however they belonged to his associates and not to his own imaginary life history. Gray had to filter the facts from fiction and he spoke with many people who were involved with various stages of Pearlman's life from childhood to his incarceration. The book examines how Pearlman used Mission Impossible-like scenarios in order to deceive the people who believed in him most, his family, friends, and business associates who suffered great losses (and not just financially). What is even sadder are the stories of elderly investors who lost their life savings to a phoney investment plan that should have been questioned a lot earlier. The successes that Pearlman had with boy bands masked the fact that he was building a house of cards that was bound to crumble sooner or later. Too bad it couldn't be sooner! The book appeals to a wide audience, including those who are fans of boy bands, financial manipulations, and behind the scenes revelations. Personally, when we were growing up, I looked at Lou as the little brother that I never had (we were only children in an apartment building where everyone else had a sibling). I wish that my attempts to keep him in line met with success but he stubbornly had to have it his way.
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